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Fri Sep 16, 2016, 01:20 PM

House Republicans Are Trying to Blackball the Climate Investigation into Exxon

Source: Wired

NICK STOCKTON SCIENCE 09.15.16.

House Republicans Are Trying to Blackball the Climate Investigation into Exxon

ONCE UPON A time, climate science and politics were separate things. Then came several decades of scientific denial, distortion, and gaslighting. One of the companies responsible for politicizing climate change is ExxonMobil, which for years funded climate change denial groups despite its own research confirming that greenhouse gases cause global warming. Now, the battle to hold them accountable has become a proxy war between a lead denier in the US House of Representatives and groups that are working to make Exxon legally responsible for its actions.

Some of this is political theater. Yesterday, Texas Republican Lamar Smith, chairman of the House Science Committee, heard arguments from a panel of experts—two of whom work for Exxon-funded think tanks—on why his committee has the authority to intervene in the investigations into Exxon’s denialism. But if this is theater, it is not over once the curtain closes. Displays like this further confuse the public about how science is done. And it drags out the spurious narrative that science isn’t in consensus about climate change, its causes, and effects. That affects everyone living on this warming planet.

First: a little background. Last year, Inside Climate News published a massive exposé detailing how Exxon had suppressed its own science—among the first to confirm that greenhouse gas emissions would lead to climate change—in order to promote an anticlimate agenda. This prompted many state attorneys general to open investigations as to whether Exxon’s knowing denial of climate science defrauded its investors.

These were blue state AGs—New York, Massachusetts, California, Hawaii—and climate-focused NGOs. Smith smelled a rat. The coordinated attack looked to him like politically-motivated attempt to suppress Exxon’s first amendment right to express a scientific opinion that differs from the mainstream. (Sidebar: That’s not how science works.) So back in May, he subpoenaed communications between attorneys general from New York and Massachusetts, and eight climate-focused NGOs. The state AGs and NGOs refused to comply with the subpoena, because they didn’t believe the request was within Smith’s jurisdiction.

Which brings us to today. Smith can’t make them turn over their communications, because he doesn’t have enough backing to give his subpoena legal weight. He needs this bugaboo to move from his committee to the entire House of Representatives, where they will, he hopes, vote that the AGs and NGOs are acting in contempt of Congress. ...

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Read more: https://www.wired.com/2016/09/congress-investigating-right-investigate-climate-investigation/

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